We decided to spend Easter in Huanchaco a small town on the North Coast of Peru. Well the guide book says it was North Peru but it was still a nine hours bus journey south from our last stop. While it was still lovely and sunny the sea in Huanchaco was much colder as the currents flow from the cold seas down South. This meant that my continuing attempts at surfing had to be in full wet suit. This time however after watching the professionals who were taking part in a competition on the beach I decided I should probably have a lesson. My instructor was very helpful and helped me push the board out to the good waves and even a couple of times gave me a push to get me on to the wave fast enough so it was much easier to stand up.
We were staying in a hostel called chill out with an owner called Williams who seemed to take the name of his hostel very seriously, as everytime we talked to him no matter what time of day he always said he was feeling groggy as he had just woken up. The hostel (like Williams himself) looked a little rough round the edges but during the crowded Easter Holiday we were just happy to have somewhere booked.
The highlight of our time in Huanchaco were probably the two pre - Incan temples called Chan Chan and Huacos de Sol y Huacos de Luna. Chan Chan was part of the Chimu empire, it had a large fortress type building which was used for their religious ceremonies including the human sacrifices. It was decorated with wonderful carvings of fish, sea otters and pelicans. All the way round Katie and I kept humming the Indiana Jones theme tune as we imagined some ancient trap was going to set off a massive rolling bolder at any time. Huacos de Sol y Luna was part of the later Moche empire and was even more impressive. It was in fact 5 different temples stacked on top of each other. Each temple was basically the same as the last one but bigger. Archaeologists said that every time they felt that their gods were not happy with them they filled the old temple in with bricks and built a larger one on top of it. On all the walls was a picture of their primary god with a red face and black tentacles coming out of the top and bottom of his head. We thought that with my tan and slightly wild hair and beard he looked just like me. Around each of the temples there were a number of the Peruvian hairless dogs. Even Katie who loves all dogs admitted they were not the prettiest but they did have their uses as we were told that they had a particularly high body temperature so people used them as hot water bottles on cold winter nights. Next to the temple was a fascinating museum where they described how two men were made to fight each other and the loser was brought to the temple to be battered to death with a club as a sacrifice. It also described how the different empires had gone about conquering and killing each other. It made me realise that when the Spanish had come and conquered the Incas it was the same as the Incas had done to the Moche and the Moche had done to the Chimu.
Our one regret at Huanchaco is that we failed to find the proper Easter celebrations we were hoping for. We were expecting all the celebrations to be on Easter Sunday but it turns out that most of the events were earlier in the week. If we had known it would have been nice to have gone to the local big city of Trujhillo to watch the processions but by the time we knew about it we had missed it.
But we did finally find the party we had been looking for for weeks. We got chatting to an aussie couple while we were eating and agreed to go off together and find a party. We first found a bar offering cheap drinks and got chatting to a Peruvian teacher called Paula who wanted to practice her English. She hysterical and larger than life with the most amazing laugh telling us all about her love life. When we got to the club on the beach we were concerned we had missed the party again but it slowly filled up and by 1.30 the place was packed with people dancing. At first I did my normal party trick of falling asleep on a sofa but once I got up dancing I got my second wind and we were happy to dance the night away.
Walking on the sea side and peer at Huanchaco we admired all of the local fishing boats which were made of reeds tied together looking a bit like little canoes. We also saw lots of people fishing with hand lines and thought we would give it a go ourselves. After buying a line we realised the main problem was going to be attaching the live bait. They were little crustatceans who squirmed when I put the hook through them. Fortunately we were not relying on our fishing skills to catch our dinner as we could not get a bite and after a bit while trying to put a new bait on the hook I managed to drop the bag and set the rest of the little crabs free to escape back in the sea.
Leaving Huanchaco we realised we had no choice but to take a night bus to Lima our next destination. After trying to google which company to take we ended up taking the advice of the man in the shop selling the tickets who told us the TRC was a new company but had the best bus you could take. While we did not really know whether to trust him I must admit it was a pretty luxurious bus with big seats that tip a long way back and no loud action film to keep us awake.